Pestle & Mortar Clothing (PMC) broke new ground when it launched The Tiger Archives, its inaugural NFT collection and the first Malaysian fashion brand to do so

Dubbed the most apt drop for a local fashion brand, Pestle & Mortar Clothing (PMC), in partnership with Tiger Beer, roared into the Year of the Tiger with the launch of The Tiger Archives, a non-fungible token (NFT) collection comprising of a streak of Lucky Tigers. Each of the 6,688 Lucky Tigers boasts PMC's take on Chinese archival tiger artwork featuring Tiger Beer's bottles through the years. Each is unique and fully hand-drawn.

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Not only do these Lucky Tigers serve as a lucky charm to kickstart the Year of the Tiger, but holders of the NFT collection also unlock a series of perks ranging from monthly beer redemptions, collaborative artist NFTs, limited edition merchandise, a series of curated real-life experiences in Malaysia and Singapore as well as exclusive digital experiences.

The Tiger Archives opened for public mint on January 25, 2022, and each was to be sold at 0.05 ETH (approximately RM720), with 30 per cent of all proceeds going towards supporting local musicians and artists throughout 2022. Bridging the metaverse with real-life and paying it forward at the same time, this was an epic showcase of the endless possibilities between a brewery and a fashion brand.

Tatler catches up with PMC co-founder and chief visionary officer Hugh Koh right before its first-ever Holders Weekend for The Tiger Archives–a holders-only event of curated experiences including a live AMA session with Tiger Beer, an F&B spread, and limited-edition collectibles up for grabs.

What were the gaps that you saw that needed to be filled in the local fashion industry? How did you fill those gaps?

First, it was clothing that spoke to like-minded individuals like ourselves. A lot of times, especially here in Asia, it’s always about looking to the West whether in terms of trends or design. We just wanted something we can really call our own and I think the Malaysian community as well. From there it somewhat drew a little bit of Southeast Asian-ness and I think the subject matters we talked about related to the community that we spoke to.

Second, even though we call ourselves an apparel brand, we like to think we're more of a lifestyle brand. Lifestyle pretty much embodies not only apparel but the music that you listen to, the places that you hang out at, the food that you eat, and we really wanted to have this full 360-degree experience. We tell people we sell a lifestyle and not just clothing.

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Personally, what was your first experience with NFT or the metaverse space? What was the thinking behind PMC going into that space?

PMC's number one priority is always about “How do we continue to stay relevant?” That’s one of the biggest challenges a lot of brands face. We've been around for 13 years and we have to figure out how to continue to wow our customers. I think a lot of what we venture into is always from a personal standpoint whether it's mine or the PMC team or even our partners.

It was mostly thanks to my circle of friends for sparking an interest in NFTs. A few people that I really looked up to were collecting NFTs and we were just talking about it day in day out. I didn’t really think much of it at first until I started seeing big news about people selling their artwork for tens of millions and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey's first-ever tweet being sold for over US$2 million. I was intrigued.

We're a lifestyle brand and NFTs in many ways are all about clout and owning something that others don't. I knew that if we really wanted to get into the space, we needed to understand it so I started by buying some NFTs, mostly for the look and feel. When I joined that community, it felt like there was just something special about it despite it being online. It somehow spoke to me. I told the team, “Hey, maybe this is something that we could do!”

Four to five months later we decided, “Let’s try to build something.” And then we found a partner in Tiger Beer.

How did PMC's collaboration with Tiger Beer come about and what was the thought process behind it? 

 Our community is mostly non-crypto natives so they don’t really understand it and we knew it was still really up and coming within this region. When we were initially thinking about the project, we said, “Hey! You know what? Maybe we should just integrate with something that we already have and maybe we shouldn't sell it but give it out for free.”

As we were building this, Tiger Beer, who has been a long-time partner, actually reached out to us with an interest in doing something for the Year of the Tiger. During our conversation, it suddenly clicked that we could create an NFT, and Tiger Beer liked the idea.

I think one of the biggest challenges was how we were going to convince our community to buy into the project and believe in it. We added real-life perks and things like access to exclusive events so people can compare the value to the price of the NFT. 

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How hard was it to convince your audience to buy into the NFT space?

A lot of people would've probably heard the term NFT, but don’t know how to go about it. Although I was really interested, I was also scared. You hear about so many scams out there and people losing all their money. The main thing was education. That’s what a lot of our time and resources were spent on.

We also needed to let people know that this is not just a one-off thing. The whole idea is that we really believe in this space and it’s the future. Whether it be the same form that we see here today or in another form, I believe that this is the direction that we're moving towards.

I see that you were educating them on Instagram but you also have a Discord channel. What goes on in the Discord channel?

The main communication tool for a lot of NFT projects is either Discord or Twitter. We revived our Twitter and learned how to use Discord. One of the first things that we did was move the entire team communication to Discord. 

It's amazing because Discord is literally a chat room where you can chat directly with your customer and your community. That's where the magic happens. That's where we drop announcements and get them excited. That's where we share a lot of the artwork. And that’s where we do a lot of our giveaways.

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How do you think NFTs in the metaverse will change the game for the fashion industry?

We live in a more digital-centred world now. Our lives are so digitally-focused as we spend so much time on the phone and other devices. It doesn’t help that the Covid-19 pandemic fast-tracked it, but the world of tomorrow will mostly be digitally-focused, even for fashion. So how else can we speak to our customers from a communication standpoint? This is one way.

Also, being an apparel brand, I’ve seen some friends who are really into gaming really understanding buying digital clothing. And that's really going to be the generation of tomorrow. Some clothing brands have actually ventured into creating digital merchandise that their avatars can wear.

We want to be able to move with the times so digital merchandise could be a possibility. Meantime, we're looking at building a metaverse and creating some experiences there. It could be either be events or galleries to showcase the works of artists we collaborate with.

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